Things That Matter

Trump Administration Calls For Asylum Seekers To Pay Processing Fees For Paperwork That Have Never Had Fees

President Trump and his administration have introduced a new set of regulations that will surely discourage some asylum seekers from coming to the United States. The new regulations include charging a fee for asylum applications and delaying the approval of work permits. The proposal comes as the Trump administration continues to slow down the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross into the U.S. The changes will surely make it more difficult for asylum seekers to apply and stay in the U.S. as they wait for their case to be heard.

The reality of the situation is many asylum seekers won’t be able to afford these new proposed application fees.

President Trump is giving Attorney General William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan 90 days come up with new regulations to speed up the processing of asylum claims. This will include directing officials to begin charging a fee to process asylum and employment authorization applications, which currently do not require payment.

While there are still questions about the amount that applicants might have to pay, it’s unclear how many families, who are fleeing poverty, would be able to afford these fees. While the report says the price would not exceed the cost of processing applications, officials did not provide an estimate for that amount.

For comparison, the application fee for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is $495, the fee for green card holders to file for U.S. citizenship is $725, and the fee to apply for a green card can go as high as $1,225, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Among other regulations, the Trump administration is also making it harder to get work permits for some asylum seekers.

Under current federal laws, an asylum seeker can apply for a work permit five months (150 days) after submitting their asylum application. The Trump administration wants to change that regulation.

Under the new proposal, asylum seekers can be denied work permits if they entered or tried to enter the country illegally. They are also calling on officials to immediately revoke work authorizations when people are denied asylum and deported from the country. If an individual receives a work permit, a new fee will also be included.

The Trump administration though process behind the regulation is that work permits are encouraging asylum seekers to come to the U.S. While some may argue that’s probably true, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not also fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.

There are also proposed changes to “improve the integrity” of credible fear determinations.

The new report also calls on Homeland Security to “improve the integrity” of credible fear determinations. When migrants first come to the U.S. border and apply for asylum, the first step is often the credible-fear interview. There, they must prove to an asylum officer that they have a credible fear of returning home or face persecution. If they then succeed, migrants can then apply to various types of relief that are available.

President Trump has often ridiculed the asylum system because of this factor, at times calling it a “loophole” that attracts immigrants to the U.S.

The memo is the Trump administration’s latest effort to make it more difficult for migrants to come and stay in the country. This all comes amid a huge spike in border crossings, including a large number of families seeking asylum. According to DHS statistics, in fiscal year 2018, 92,959 asylum claims were made at the southern border, up from 55,584 in the 2017 fiscal year.

Many immigrant advocates are coming down on the new proposed regulations that will only make it harder to those seeking asylum.

The new proposed regulations are designed with fair intentions to deter the flow of incoming migrants. The Trump administration is financially attacking a group of vulnerable people, knowing full well the majority won’t be able to afford a fee.

It’s fair to assume there will be a lawsuit over these proposals and any new immigration policy put forward. Which means these new fees won’t be put in anytime soon. But immigration advocates are angry at these proposed measures and the consequence they will have on those seeking help.

“The idea that we will charge asylum seekers a fee to seek refuge from persecution, torture, or death is offensive and counter to our values,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

Leonardo Arzuaga, 28, of Cuba, arrived in Mexico last month. He is one of many asylum seekers that would be affected by the new proposal as he is fleeing political persecution. Arzuaga is currently waiting until he can cross the U.S. border and claim asylum.

“I think it’s a bit unjust,” Arzuaga told the AP of the recent proposals. “Because many people do not have the means to arrive, work, produce. For me it’s something that isn’t logical. Because one practically gets here with nothing.”

READ: Government Officials Report That Reuniting Separated Families Will Take Two Years

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

Things That Matter

President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

January 22, 2021

The Trump administration spent years trying to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era program was important in helping young undocumented adults who came to the country when they were children. President Joe Biden has restored it.

President Joe Biden has restored DACA to its original 2012 form.

President Biden was with President Obama when DACA was passed to protect the young adults who benefit from the program. President Biden’s executive order is giving hundreds of thousands of young adults protections and the ability to work once again.

“This memorandum, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) guidance, deferred the removal of certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have obeyed the law, and stayed in school or enlisted in the military,” reads the memorandum posted on the White House website. “DACA and associated regulations permit eligible individuals who pass a background check to request temporary relief from removal and to apply for temporary work permits. DACA reflects a judgment that these immigrants should not be a priority for removal based on humanitarian concerns and other considerations and that work authorization will enable them to support themselves and their families, and to contribute to our economy, while they remain.”

Original: During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Things That Matter

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com